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Athlete of the Week: Hsieh, Galajda’s postseason heroics shine bright

| Monday, March 28, 2022

Another week of postseason sports led to another week of March heroics. Those heroics shined bright in our Athlete of the Week voting, leading to two clear winners.

Women’s Athlete Of The Week: Kaylin Hsieh, Notre Dame Fencing

23 wins in 25 bouts and a national championship? That’s about as good as it gets, and it was enough for sophomore Kaylin Hsieh to run away with the voting for this award. In epee, consistency is notoriously difficult to obtain. As such, Hsieh’s 23-2 record over two days is virtually unheard of. As her coach described in an interview, it is “unreal” and the “type of things that the best fencers in program history do.”

Hsieh dominated the competition and led the women’s epee division wire-to-wire. In the semifinals, she avenged her loss from last year’s championship, winning 15-10. She replicated that scoreline in the final to complete an absolutely dominant run to the individual title, earning her the Observer Women’s Athlete of the Week.

Honorable Mention: Dara Mabrey, Notre Dame Women’s Basketball

While the season did end the way Irish fans wanted, don’t forget what Mabrey did on Monday night to help the Irish get to the Sweet 16. In the Round of 32, the senior guard launched 12 three-pointers and made seven of them. She poured in 29 points, sparked by her 17 points in the first quarter. Those 17 points helped the Irish jump to a huge first-quarter advantage, and Notre Dame rolled, 108-64. They set a record for the largest victory by a lower-seeded team in March Madness history. Mabrey’s 29 points was a tournament-high for the Irish, and her contributions in a resurgent year for Notre Dame won’t soon be forgotten.

Men’s Athlete Of The Week: Matthew Galajda, Notre Dame Hockey

The Irish goaltender stood on his head in the Albany Regional. He faced 57 shots and notched 55 saves. That was enough to get the Irish to the second round, but a 1-0 loss in the regional final ended Notre Dame’s season. Galajda didn’t allow any goals after the first period throughout the tournament. That included a huge penalty shot that Galajda stonewalled, making a strong save on a wrist shot.

With a .965 save percentage and just two goals allowed, Galajda earned Men’s Athlete of the Week for the second time on his third nomination.

Honorable Mention: Graham Slaggert, Notre Dame Hockey

It was tough to pick between Slaggert and Galajda, but both get honored here. Slaggert posted the game-winning goal versus North Dakota in overtime in the NCAA Tournament. Less than two minutes into the extra period, Slaggert sniped a wrist shot into the top left corner and send the Irish through to the regional final. That huge goal was enough to earn Slaggert the honorable mention this week.

Team of the Week: Notre Dame Fencing

Hard to make any other argument here. All the fencing team did was host and win the 2022 NCAA Championships, leading wire-to-wire. The Irish took a lead on day one and never looked back. The women’s team was particularly dominant, earning 102 of the team’s 189 points. Hsieh earned gold, and two other fencers earned silver medals on the women’s side. The Irish’s title is their second straight and fourth in five years (excluding the canceled 2020 tournament).

For their 12th national championship in program history, Notre Dame Fencing earns our team of the week.

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About Aidan Thomas

A junior marketing and ACMS major at Notre Dame, I've countered the success I've enjoyed as a New England sports fan with the painful existence of a Notre Dame football fan.

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